Can Dogs Be Trained Not to Bark?

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Introduction

Your dog barks when you come home, at other dogs, at people walking by the front window of your home, at cars that pass by, and maybe even barks at you when he doesn't get the treat he wants. 

If this sounds all too familiar, you are not alone. Many dogs have a barking issue. It can be stressful and overwhelming if your dog is a relentless barker, but thankfully there are a few simple ways you can train your dog to stop barking in inappropriate situations. All it takes is a bit of time, dedication, and patience to train your vocal dog to be quiet when he should be!

Sings of a Dog Barking Too Much

There is a line between a dog that barks at the appropriate time - and for good reason - and when a dog is an excessive barker. You first want to find out why your dog is an excessive barker, as there is always a reason they are so vocal. 

One reason is your dog is territorial and possessive. If you find your dog barks when around other dogs or people, won't stop until they leave, and the barking gets louder and more aggressive the closer the dog or person gets, this is not appropriate barking. 

Secondly, they could be barking so much out of alarm and fear. Take notice if your dog starts barking when they hear a loud or sudden noise. Some dogs will also bark out of boredom or loneliness. Therefore, if you haven't spent a lot of time with your pup or they seem to be pacing and don't know what to do with themselves, they could be barking to signal they want to play or have attention from you. Notice if they seem like they want to play, go outside or get a treat. 

Sometimes, if your dog isn't getting enough activity during the day, they will bark constantly to let you know they need to release some energy through a walk or play. 

Lastly, and the most serious, is if your dog suffers from separation anxiety. This means they will compulsively bark when you are not with them. It's often accompanied by destruction, peeing and pooping in the house, depression, and pacing around. 

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when your dog is barking too much:
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Guarding
  • Wag tail
  • Pacing

Other Signs

These are some other signs you might notice if your dog is barking too much:
  • Barking the Whole Time They are Alone
  • Barking in an Aggressive Manner
  • Barking at Inappropriate Times
  • Barking at You, Other People, and/or Dogs

History of Dogs Barking

Interestingly, barking is mostly only found in domesticated dogs, and not in wild dogs or wolves. This is true of both centuries ago and today. Therefore, some scientists believe that barking is linked to humans breeding and domesticating dogs. Essentially, humans have conditions dogs to carry the traits that were thought as desirable to humans. Wild dogs tend to yip, squeal, whine, and/or howl, but not bark. In fact, it is basically absent from a wild dog’s “vocabulary.”

Scientists have recently begun to look into this unique phenomenon. Even though these observations have been present within the community of scientists and dogs owners throughout the years, no one has taken it a step further to look into the why. It is important to look into why this phenomenon occurs so we can further understand dogs and the dog and human connection as well. 

The evolution of barking in domesticated dogs has taken place over a rather short period of time - 50,000 years to be exact. During that time, humans have intensively bred these dogs to have the characteristics that they wanted and found to be the most useful. It is challenging to pin down this specific evolution, though, along with why it happened. 

Science Behind Dogs Barking

As we have seen from the evolutions of barking in domesticated dogs, barking is part of a dog's inherent nature. Dogs will always bark - it's just who they are! 

One reason researchers believe this is true is that after a series of studies, it was shown that dog barks have common patterns and acoustic structures. This means the pitch, harmonics, and repetitions of the dogs' barks were all of similar nature. 

For instance, one dog's barking from fear sounds very similar to another dog's fear bark. The study also found that the most variation on dog barks happens when the dogs are at play. This suggests that humans need to be able to identify a dog's alarm bark quickly, while a playful bark does not register as important to the human ear. 

In fact, according to this study, humans were able to effectively identify whether a dog's bark was out of play, fear, aggression, or some other emotion. This suggests that humans and dogs are fundamentally connected and able to understand one another - even through barking!

Training Dogs to Stop Barking Too Much

All of these cool facts about the history and science of barking are fun and intriguing until you find your dog is an excessive barker. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways you can train your dog to stop barking too much and at the inappropriate times. 

The first thing you need to do is not yell or shout at your barking dog. This will only serve to make them bark even more as it stimulates them. You should only speak calmly and firmly to them when they are barking. Next, you need to pick a word to teach them that tells them to stop barking. We suggest using the word "quiet" when training your dog to stop barking. 

From there, when your dog starts barking, say "quiet" in a firm and calm voice. Wait for your pooch to stop barking, even if it is just for half a second, and reward them with a treat and some love. Be very careful to make sure you never give a treat while they are in the middle of barking.

Over time, your dog will learn that "quiet" means to stop barking and if they stop barking, they will get a yummy treat. We recommend using a high value treat like chicken, beef, or whatever is their favorite, as it will motivate them more. Other tips that help excessive barking are making sure they are well exercised - don't let them get too bored or they will bark out of boredom. If they don't like being alone, provide them with stimulating toys or have a dog walker or sitter spend time with them during the day. 

If your dog barks a lot when the doorbell rings, train them to go to a special spot when they bark and/or someone comes over. This will take some time, but it can minimize the amount of barking that generally takes place. 

How To React When Your Dog Barks Too Much

  • Use a firm and calm voice when training them to stop barking.
  • Don't allow the issue to go on for too long without addressing it.
  • Don't allow them to keep barking.
  • Don't yell at them.

Safety Tips for When Your Dog Is Barking Excessively

  • Keep your barking dog away from other dogs and people.
  • Never hit or yell at a barking dog - especially if the barking is aggressive.

We Want to Hear Your Story About Your Dog Learning Not to Bark!